Let’s rap with Carmine Infantino: Great Comics Surveys of the Past

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Beat pal Robert Simpson saw our post on comics surveys and was inspired to recall comics reader surveys of the past. DC Comics surveyed their readers in both 1970 and 1978 — possibly confounded by the emerging youth market and Marvel’s much higher Q. Both are archived online.

The 1970 survey from Comics Treadmill, with the immortal Superman quote “Let’s rap!”.

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And, The 1978 survey, from Aquaman Shrine, which came as a four page bind-in.

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Rob observes:

Pretty interesting how the writers of the surveys tried to sound young in the first one, using 1970s lingo like “groovy” and such. And, of course, the 1970 survey is somewhat infamous for question #5 (b), in which they ask how interested their readers are in stories about black people. That DC would later almost publish Jack Kirby’s SOUL LOVE comic of love stories about black people makes you wonder what was going through their minds. 

Survey-unrelated bonus: publisher Carmine Infantino’s apology letter from the 1970s when DC upped their prices, either from 15 to 20 or 20 to 25 cents. From reading it, you will find out what turns Carmine on — and the answer may surprise you!

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Comments

  1. Scratchie says:

    Sounds like the letter came from the switch from 15c to 25c when they increased the size of the magazine with “specially selected” Golden Age reprints that they had lying around. The prices later went from 25c to 20c (with a reduction in page count) and then up to 25c, but there was no increase in page count at that point.

  2. joecab says:

    I was hoping what turned him on was going to be purple gorillas riding dinosaurs.

  3. The more things change…
    If you read Carmine’s letter, taking into account the changes in slang from the 1970’s to current day, all it would take is to replace the phrase “specifically selected stories” with the phrase “back-up features” and we have the present day DC.
    I just found it rather enlightening and ironic that we’re going through the same thing that comic readers in the 1970’s went through, almost word for word…

  4. I love that first survey. I can never decide whether I want to read more about pollution or black people.

  5. Why limit yourself to one or the other, Stuart? How about stories about black people who pollute?

  6. Kid Kyoto says:

    I’m tempted to fill these out and send them into DC. Maybe we could get a few 100 people to do it.

  7. Chump don’t want no help, chump don’t get no help.

  8. Matt Halteman says:

    Jive-ass fool ain’t got no brains anyhow…

  9. The most frightening tell-all is that the first question of the survey has only one answer in today’s market: Other (OK and from a friend if you recieved the comic as a gift) The current fill in would be: comic shop, book store or internet.

    The comic industry (with the exception of Archie) has lost the impulse buyer of the point of purchase product in every one of the first 5 check boxes in the survey!

    Those 5 selections were the backbone of the industry from 1939 till the late 70’s when the Direct Market came on the scene.

    The survey did leave out another significant outlet: subscription, which was a major source for readers in extreme rural areas of the country.

    Also the answer for number 2 and 3 would be 0 because the comic would be in a bag as soon as it was read, if it was read at all.

    In the 1940’s the average comic was read by 5 different readers as noted in a must read chapter on comic books in Coulton Waugh’s The Comics, published originally in 1947 and republished as recently as 1991.

  10. I remember filling the first survey out as a kid, and asking my parents exactly what “bubble gum music” was. They didn’t know either!

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